Wicked Wednesday: Planners

Ink & Volt Planner, decorated by Julie

Well, it is 2017, and we all know what that means. Time to break out a new planner! For some of us, this decision took up a lot of time in late 2016. Wickeds, do you use a paper planner? Any particular brand? Do you use it for all aspects of your life, or one part only? What do you like best about your system? Let us know!

Liz: I love planners. I love planning for planners. And I love trying new ones. I have a couple that are high on my list to try, but towards the end of last year I got the Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner from Dragontree. It doesn’t have pre-populated dates so you can start whenever. There’s a lot of planning involved meant to help you articulate your dreams and goals so the actual work makes sense and is following a path. I did a lot of the pre-work at the end of the year and now I’m looking forward to trying the actual monthly planning piece. It breaks it down as nitty-gritty as you want, with monthly/quarterly/yearly goals, monthly/weekly/daily tasks and life planning, and even gratitude reflections. I’ll let you all know how it turns out!

Jessie: Like Liz, I adore planners. I find that by writing things out by hand I manage to meet more of my goals. This year I am using a new planner from Ink and Volt and so far, it is all I could ask of a time management/ course setting tool. It has a great weekly spread with just the sort of flexible structure that helps me to mindfully manage my time without squeezing the joy from my existence. There are monthly goals and a habit tracker which I am using to develop a meditation practice. Since I work from home I use a single planner for my professional and private life. I have a second notebook that I use to track quarterly goals, evaluate my long-term plans and to record appreciations on a weekly basis. I know that sort of planning isn’t for everyone but it has worked extraordinarily well for me for several years. In fact, I don’t believe I would have my career without it.

plannerBarb: I love my planner. That must be a writer thing, based on what Liz and Jessie said above. However, being a person who loves her routines, I didn’t search out a new one this year. I’ve been using a Levenger Circa junior-sized notebook for almost two decades. I use the monthly calendar tabs as dividers and all my notes– business, volunteer, vacation journals, writing, home life, to-dos, etc.–are chronological. After three or four months, I archive the calendar pages and notes. I just did this for September-December 2016. I’ve found over the years, that I can remember when something happened much more easily than accessing the information any other way, so the chrono style suites me much better than dividing things into categories, some of which, inevitably don’t make sense in the long run. The one exception is my current book or short story. Because the Circa pages are so easy to move, I can take notes out of my chrono notebook and put them into the notebooks housing my writing projects. My husband makes fun of me for still using a paper calendar. But then, during our more-or-less-weekly meetings to sync up, I make fun of him because he has to wait for his computer to boot up and then needs all the details in order to make an entry.

Sherry: Oh, Barb — it’s not an all writers thing. I use my phone and my calendar for planning. My husband and I share a calendar so we can see each other’s events. It’s cold, it’s sterile, but it works for me. However, Liz was here over the weekend and she was looking at planners while we were out. I have to say her enthusiasm for them and all the beautiful ones we saw did tempt me. But did I succumb? No. I’ll make a note about it on my phone and set a reminder.

Barb: Sherry, laughing at this! I do think if my husband and I shared a calendar, we’d be better informed. But then we’d miss all those lovely “discussions.”

Jessie: Barb, my husband and I sit down every Sunday for a weekly planning and appreciations/goals date. It is one of the highlights of our week together. I had no idea anyone else did that!

Edith: I don’t use a planner and I still use a paper calendar – two, in fact, plus a table EdithCalendarof due dates and release dates. This year I finally got comfortable with my Google calendar, and I love that it syncs itself between my phone and my computers. (That SO ages me – of course our phones are also computers these days! Oh, well. I claim my position as the oldest Wicked and I’m proud of it. I earned these wisdom wrinkles.) The picture to the right is from two years ago. Nothing but the year has changed on the wall in front of my desk. I love my Tibetan Nuns Project calendar. It’s compact, easy to carry somewhere, and doesn’t take up a lot of real estate. And I also “archive” my calendars – that is, I don’t throw them away and can check back to see when something happened or where I went.

However, my additional responsibilities as President of Sisters in Crime New England has already overtaxed my planning skills, and it’s only been four days… I’ll figure something out. And for writing, I just put everything in Scrivener. So far it’s working for me. Why change that?

Last Year’s Decorated Planner Pad

Julie: I am a planner addict as well. In fact, Jessie introduced me to Ink and Volt, and so far I LOVE IT. Because of the way it is structured, around yearly and monthly goal setting, it inspires. But since time isn’t broken down into hours, but instead in blocks, it melds well with my “at some point this afternoon I have to write thank you note to donors” rather than “I failed because it was scheduled from 1-2, and something else happened.” I also use Google calendars for meetings and appointments, and update the paper calendar daily, but writing things down, including notes, color coding, making accountability lists? I love it. I was a huge Franklin Covey fan, so I use parts of that system as well. I also have a Bullet Journal that I use for notes, plotting, inspiring quotes. Basically, my planner is a diary that helps me stay organized. Other great planners include the Passion Planner and Planner Pad. I am intrigued by Liz’s Dragontree Planner, and may explore that when I have more time to noodle.


Friends, do you use a paper planner? What system do you use? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?





42 Thoughts

  1. I’m a planner girl for sure! I have a paper planner that I use as a memory planner. I go to scrap booking planner groups. It’s a lot of fun and helps me stay on target.

  2. I have been bullet journaling since September 2016 and I LOVE it! I use a regular, spiral notebook, but it has a cute, polka dotted cover. I also use my calendar on my phone, but not as much now that I’ve started the bujo. I have a system that works for me, while I’m still discovering new tips, and it’s really working well for me.

    1. I have a bullet journal too for random ideas, books to read, movies to watch. You know, all those things that get jotted onto sticky notes. I love it for that and love to see all the bullet journal enthusiasts on Instagram!

  3. Every Christmas, for the past three years, my wonderful daughter-in-law, Mary Creed, gives me a paper planner called “The Writer’s Year.” It’s a beautiful thing–edited by Moira Allen, Writing-World.com Designed specifically for writers, it tracks deadlines and due dates, projects and billable hours. Even has a separate submission tracker for keeping track of what I’ve sent where and when. And more. I love it. Even has writerly inspirational quotes on random pages.It’s at the end of my kitchen counter where I can make notes whenever they occur to me. By the end of the year it’s coffee stained and bedraggled but still working for me!

  4. When I left my tech job, I left behind the beeping online calendar and never looked back. I love Charley Harper’s graphics, and I have a paper planner from Pomegranate with his colorful captioned pictures week-to-week. The day spaces are just big enough for appointments, blog reminders, check-off items, milestones achieved, and “don’t forget to…” reminders. And above my writing desk is a box-framed poster calendar from Abacus graphics (Dana Heacock of Maine); right now it’s showing toasty warm Nordic knit mittens for January. Enjoyed this post!! –kate

  5. I think planners are useful. I should have an assistant and she should most definitely carry a planner.

  6. I have never had an official planner. I use Google calendar, mainly so I can print out the coming month and pin it at eye level in front of my desk (that really does help!). It also sends reminders to my cell phone, if I remember to look at my phone. I usually print out a full-year calendar and block out important dates on it, which helps me visualize both deadlines and excursions like conferences (which often interfere with deadlines!). For planning, I hand-write a one-page bullet point list of what I think I’m doing going forward. Believe me, it changes a lot.

    My father used to do his planning on small index cards, in different colors for different purposes (don’t ask me what they were–he never explained it to me). He kept the cards in his front shirt pocket, along with a Cross pen in each color. BTW, he had terrible handwriting.

  7. I used to use a paper planner, but now I mostly use my phone to jot down notes or to enter appointments since it will alert me ahead of time in case I forget, and because it’s light to carry around and easily accessible. I do have notebooks that I will use to record things occasionally. I’m obsessed with wall calendars though. Purchased 6 this year of some of my favorite things. Really love the Gooseberry Patch one in my kitchen. It has so many cozy pictures and great recipes. It makes me smile whenever I see it.

  8. I use a filofax for my own planning (along with on-line to do lists!) and we have a calendar up for noting down appointments for both of us (and the dogs lol)

      1. Just Google Docs which I can share with my OH so we can both add and tick off items as needed!

  9. I’m still searching for the perfect planner. I like the looks of that Ink & Volt model. I’ve been using one similar to Barb’s, which serves some but not all my needs. And I’m not good about keeping up with an electronic calendar–the act of writing something down tends to cement the thing in my mind. Sort of, LOL! I have a friend who created her own custom planner (including things like her monthly budget, goals, master grocery lists, telephone numbers, etc.), formatted it, and had it POD’d on Createspace. She’s been doing this for several years, updating it as the calendar and her needs change, and it works great for her.

  10. This is one of my all-time favorite topics. I love, love, love planners. I’ve recently used a personal sized Filofax (Nude patent, beautiful) but now I’m using an Daytimer (I’ve had this forever) which is bigger but not an A5. I may have to switch up to an A5 size. I can’t imagine not having a planner.

    1. I love the A5 size! Big enough to really write in, small enough to carry. I can’t imagine not having a planner either. It gives me the willies just thinking about it!

  11. I’m too lazy to put things into planners. Fortunately, it’s just me and I don’t have much to plan for/remember. The one thing I’ve started using in the last year to remember dates I’ve promised reviews is the “Upcoming Book Tour Stops” area on the upper left part of my blog. I don’t know if anyone else ever looks at it or not, but I use it to remind me what ARCs I have to read and when I’ve promised to have the reviews posted. Of course, I have three new books to add to that list with months not days since I haven’t planned out for April or May dates specifically yet. (It’s only January. How am I planning for May already?)

  12. I’m with Sherry and Edith, just a blank calendar page on the fridge..but I do have darling magnets holding it in place!

  13. I have never used a planner, as such, but I’m rather intrigued by the Ind and Volt planner. I’m wondering if something like that can keep this ADHD teacher / writer on track. I currently use a series of calendars and notebooks. I have one physical calendar planner that simply keeps tracks of assignments and task for the six classes I teach for three different schools. I use Google calendars: one for bill paying, one for appointments, and one for events that we can consider attending if we have the time. I have a notebook with books I want to read, and a separate notebook with dates for places I want to go including museum shows, gift shops, etc. I understand this “need” for many calendars is an ADD things – at least that’s what my daughter was told, but what I lack is something that will force me to set goals, and remind me that closing my class sites and reading Facebook posts is not going to get me where I want to be. But since I’m already retirement age, am I too old to make changes?

    1. I don’t think you’re ever too told to make changes. I also understand the many notebooks/calendars urge. I do like the Ink & Volt. My challenge is always making sure I use it. That said, I also like the Bullet Journal system–that may work for you, since it becomes what you need it to be. Here’s an article: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/how-to-start-a-bullet-journal?utm_term=.ted0mLEKP#.pvAlG03BY Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

    2. I love that the Ink and Volt planner has a thread of goal setting and follow up running throughout it. If setting goals is on your mind I would recommend giving it a try. The paper quality is lovely too which makes using it a pleasure in the moment.

  14. I now have an obsession with planners (thanks to Jessie and Julie!) and have quite an assortment. I probably spend an hour each morning going over them. I have a calendar on my wall, one planner for my daily list, one about my rituals, another for goals and two for keeping track of my events for writing and daily life. I think I may need a support group soon!

  15. I have always been obsessed with day planners and have no idea how other people live life without them.

    When I was an investigator I preferred the At-a-Glance planners because they are relatively light to carry around, could take a beating, and had lots of space to keep track of appointment times and addresses with sources, records offices, etc. They also had ones that were (I think) 14 month academic planners, which was great because they started the last week of August, which more closely aligned with the fiscal year.

    Since my career change I’ve tried a different planner every year looking for one to commit to. Because of this blog I discovered Ink & Volt and am giving that one a try this year! So far I love it, because I can keep track of my goals in it very easily, instead of keeping a separate notebook like I usually do.

  16. I used the same hard copy planner for 20 years when I was working. But when I retired last spring, I switched to relying solely on Google Calendar. With the exception of my regular walking group outings, my other daily schedule was now quite irregular. So I needed the 30 minute reminder on my smartphone about upcoming meetups and other commitments, and it has worked well so far,

  17. Googlecalendar, especially now that I have my SIL’s old smart phone and can turn it on to check. Helpful when I am doing scheduling for the shelter, although so far I can only check my own schedule on the phone: have to use a computer to access the shelter’s schedule.

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